Madonna Mountain Peak via Cerro San Luis Obispo Trail

Location: Charles A. and Mary R. Maino Open Space; San Luis Obispo, CA.

Distance: 3.9 miles

Type: Day-hike; Out-and-Back.

Rating: Moderate.

Dog Friendly?: Yes, on a leash.

Permits & Fees: Parking is FREE. The parking lot fills up quickly, so arrive early to guarantee a spot.

Driving Directions to Trailhead: Click HERE.

Preparation: Water and sunscreen!

The Hike:

AllTrails Map – CLICK HERE

After parking in the lot, walk towards the green metal gate. This is the start of the trail:

Continue hiking up the wide, dirt path. At the following fork (about 0.25 miles in), continue straight:

Not long after the first fork, a second fork will be reached. Take the trail to the left (bordered by small logs):

Continue hiking up the side of the mountain. This is one of the steepest parts of the trail.

Note: There are a few different ways to get to the top of the peak. There are also trails that circle the mountain without leading to the peak. One of these trails is called the “M” trail. This trail is very well-marked and may cause some confusion since the Cerro San Luis Obispo trail does not follow the marked “M” trail. If you’re interested in viewing the giant “M” that can be seen on the side of the mountain, use this map instead.

Before reaching the wooden bridge, there is an “M” trail marker that points to the left. Instead of following this trail, take a right. If you’ve hiked past the wooden bridge, you’ve gone too far:

After taking the unmarked trail to the left of the “M” trail sign, this gate will come into view:

The trail continues around the back ridge of the mountain; make sure to check out the views on the final climb to the peak:

Bishop Peak can also be seen from this portion of the trail:

The trail becomes steep towards the final ascent. At the base of the peak, there is a wooden stage:

The final climb is up the boulders directly behind the stage. The peak is marked by the following metal pole:

After taking some time at the top of Madonna Mountain to enjoy the views, take the same trail back down the mountain to the parking lot:

Happy Hiking!